Pura Vida: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my Costa Rican adventure with my wonderful mother!  If you haven’t checked out Pura Vida: Part 1, please do–you definitely want to check out our adventures in Tortuguero.  Two words:  zip lining!  🙂  And now…

Day 4 (continued):  Arrival Day in La Fortuna!

Our last morning in Tortuguero was beautiful–hot and sunny with bright blue skies.  It was tough to leave, but leave we did (after a final breakfast).  After the boat ride back to the mainland, we hopped on a bus and took a ride to a restaurant for lunch.

Lunch was buffet-style with the BEST FRESH SALSA I’VE EVER TASTED.  (Let me say this right now–one thing that did not disappoint during this trip was the food.  I’m a vegetarian, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find enough options while I was there.  Not only was there wonderful fresh fruit at ever meal, there was frequently salad with fresh veggies and lots of other tasty meat-free options!)

After lunch, a van picked us up to drive us to La Fortuna.  The trip was lengthy, but just like before, we were able to see a lot of the smaller towns on our journey.

As we got closer to La Fortuna, we could start to see the volcano.  Yes, an actual VOLCANO!  Was I a little scared that the volcano would spontaneously erupt and we’d die from the molten lava?  Absolutely.  Was I willing to sacrifice that to take in the beautiful view of the volcano from our hotel room.  ABSOLUTELY.  Just look at this beautiful view!

 

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Like the garden of Eden!

The hotel we stayed in had a few more amenities than our previous place in Tortuguero.  We had wi-fi in our room.  We had towels folded into cute animal shapes.  We had a TV with premium channels.  We had multiple poolside bars.  We had room service.  And we had…(wait for it)…air conditioning!  #thankyoulord

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Hello, butterfly.

After we got settled in, we walked around the rest of the site.  Our room was awesome, and the rest of the place was even better–check out some of the cool stuff on site:

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A playground..for animals!  Hotel staff put out leftover fruit each day to attract lots of colorful birds.

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Poolside view

 

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Just a hottie sitting next to a hot spring.  🙂  But seriously, the hot springs were over 100 degrees!

We eventually made our way to one of the poolside bars…

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Enjoy a drink poolside?  You don’t have to ask me twice!

Happy hour was going on, so we enjoyed a few drinks and watched the Costa Rican national soccer team on TV.  (They won!)

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Two pura vidas, please!

After the game and drinks and dinner at the bar, we went back to our room to get some much-needed rest.

Day 5:  La Fortuna!

This was the first day that we didn’t have any excursions or tours planned–we could do what we wanted, when we wanted.  Turns out, what we wanted was a relaxing day of shopping in town–and that’s exactly what we got.

We had another good breakfast at the hotel, then took a cab into town.  We purchased souvenirs for our loved ones back home including, but not limited to, Costa Rican coffee.  I bought eight bags of coffee to bring home–Mom ended up getting about 10!  We needed to share the blessing of authentic Costa Rican coffee with all of our friends and family back home.

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Downtown La Fortuna

 

We bought so many souvenirs we couldn’t even carry them all comfortably–we ended up buying tote bags to put the souvenirs in!  All that shopping worked up a definitely appetite, so we stopped for a bite to eat.

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Lunch date with my favorite lady!

After fries and milkshakes in a cute open air restaurant, we went back to the hotel for more relaxation.  Since we were in Costa Rica during the rainy season, we spent a lot of evenings chilling in our room because of the torrential downpour that started at about 6:30 each evening.  We got a lot of reading done and slept very comfortably after our full day in La Fortuna.

Day 6:  Journey to Guanacaste!

Luckily we got some good rest during the night, because we got picked up at 6:45am the next day to head to our final tour stop–Guanacaste.  Check back soon for Part 3 of our Costa Rican adventure!

 

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Pura Vida: Part 1

Currently, the temperature is barely above freezing where I live.  Believe it or not, that’s WARM.  Last week it was literally -20 degrees.  #notcool  (I swear, if I didn’t love my job I’d absolutely move to a warmer climate.)

So, in an effort to get away from the cold (at least, mentally escape it) I’m hitting y’all with a recap of my trip to Costa Rica last year!  My job is awesome because on your five-year anniversary, you are awarded a sabbatical:  four weeks (paid) to take a trip to anywhere in the world you haven’t been before–with a companion!  I chose to use half of my sabbatical to take this vacation to Costa Rica with the woman I love above all others, my wonderful mother!  It really was the trip of a lifetime–Mom and I had a spectacular time experiencing the “pura vida” (pure life) spirit of Costa Rica and its people.  My mother is the most spectacular person I know–I owe EVERY OUNCE of success I’ve had in life to her–and I wanted to show her my appreciation with an international adventure.

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My mommy and me enjoying Costa Rica!

This post is the first in a series, so look for additional updates over the next couple of weeks.  But, for now, let’s start at the beginning…

Day 1:  Arrival day in San Jose!

Mom and I met up in Atlanta to take the flight to Costa Rica.  Airports are usually pretty boring, but for some reason we had a few funny interactions while we were there.

First, Mom got a complement from an airport worker on her smile.  After she said “thank you” (as a good Southern woman does) the airport worker asks loudly, “Who yo dentist is?!?”  This tickled her because she was not expecting to be asked for a dental referral (since usually dudes ask for a lady’s phone number instead).

Second, we discovered we were wearing the same pants–yoga pants with mesh cutouts.  #likemotherlikedaughter #goodstylerunsinthefamily

When we landed in San Jose, we did so under gray skies, but that didn’t make us any less excited to be there!  As we made our way to customs, I got to bust out my high school Spanish with “Donde esta el bano?” or “Where is the bathroom?”  Throughout the trip, many friendly Costa Ricans let me practice my terrible Spanish on them (and I really appreciated that they didn’t laugh at me).

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Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!

Our travel agent arranged a shuttle from the airport to our hotel, which was about 30 minutes away.  Our driver, a young guy with skinny sweatpants and braces, welcomed us and gave us our itinerary for the week.  We definitely over-tipped him because not only was he friendly, he safely got us to our hotel.

The hotel was fantastic!  The lobby and room were so nice, and the staff were very accommodating.  After getting checked in, we settled down in the room with some Chinese takeout.  We couldn’t get too comfortable though, as the next day we headed to the first town on our tour…

Day 2:  Journey to Tortuguero!

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up early to pack up and head to our next destination, Tortuguero. The hotel had a delicious continental breakfast, which included the best fresh pineapple I’ve ever put in my mouth and gallopinto, a tasty rice and bean dish.  I later learned that gallopinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast food–it was served at every single location we went to for breakfast!  (After the trip, I attempted to make gallopinto myself–my version was nowhere near as good as the real stuff.)  We also had a few cups of the BEST FREAKIN’ COFFEE I’VE EVER TASTED.  Seriously–I don’t even drink coffee and I was gulping that stuff down like water.

It was a good thing we caffeinated with all that delicious coffee too, because the bus ride to Tortuguero was longggggg.  We actually had to take a longer route because the main road was washed out (due to the rainy season).  But the lengthy trip wasn’t terrible, because we got to see lots of tiny towns in the countryside.

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First by land…

The lengthy trip wasn’t over with the bus ride either–after we got off the boat, we grabbed our luggage and traveled by boat to get to our hotel.

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…then by boat!

Once we got off the boat and got our luggage unpacked, we went on a hike (which was really more of a nature walk) .  The hike couldn’t have taken more than an hour, but during that time we saw:

  • Sloths
  • Howler monkeys
  • Spider monkeys
  • Land crabs
  • Bullet ants
  • Baby lizards
  • Tons of cool plants
  • Golden spiders

 

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Golden spider sparkle

When I tell y’all we were in the jungle, WE WERE IN THE JUNGLE.  Our hotel was actually built inside a national park!  There was no internet in the room, no TV in the room, and NO AIR CONDITIONING in the room, but it was so neat to be right there in the middle of the jungle.  Mom and I were sweating our faces off, but were so thrilled with all the animals we got to see.  After dinner and a shower, we headed to bed to prepare for our first full day in Tortuguero.

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Sweet dreams!

Day 3:  Tortuguero!

Weirdest wake up call ever–monkeys!  Yes, Mom and I were woken up by howler monkeys, well, howling.  It was strange but cool at the same time–who can say they used live howler monkeys as an alarm clock?  Apparently those monkeys wanted an early breakfast, because they woke us up veryyyyyyy early.  Not a problem though–we got up, had breakfast (and more delicious coffee) and took a boat tour through the canals of Tortuguero.

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Good morning!

The boat tour was just as cool as the hike we took the previous day.  On the boat tour, we saw:

  • More monkeys
  • More lizards (including a Jesus Christ lizard!)
  • Tons of cool birds
  • Turtles
  • A crocodile (which was so close it could have jumped into the damn boat)
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He looks hungry!

Our tour guide was so awesome, and the boat driver was too–they made sure to point out all the interesting animals and plants so we could take lots of pictures.

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Drying her wings in the sun

After our boat tour, the adventure continued with…zip lining!  Zip lining was hot (heat rises, and we were up in the treetops), scary (at least for me, because I’m afraid of heights), and FUN!  Mom was really good at it too!  She made it through the course like it was nothing!

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Safety first!

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We watched our instructors (literally) show us the ropes.

 

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Climbing up to the first platform–and praying I don’t fall off the ladder.

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Look at her go!

 

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Terrified?  YES.

After zip lining, we headed into the village to do some shopping.  We bought some ice cream and snacks, and I picked up a few postcards for folks back home.  We also saw vendors selling fresh coconut water, jewelry, and souvenirs.  Also, there were so many adorable dogs everywhere (off leash).

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Tortuguero Village

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Toucan statues in town!

The final activity of the day was an hour-long massage in the spa.  Now, earlier I mentioned our room did not have air conditioning.  And after all the adventuring we did, we were super hot.  The humidity was out of control too, which made the heat feel even hotter!  Mom and I thought, surely the spa will have air conditioning–we can get a massage *and* beat the heat for a little while!

Come to find out, the spa did NOT have air conditioning.  In fact, it was COMPLETELY OUTDOORS.  #weweresowrong The spa did have some high-powered ceiling fans, so we were still able to beat the heat and enjoy our massages even without air conditioning.  🙂

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Outdoor spa!

Relaxed after our massages, we enjoyed dinner with the other folks in our tour group.  We dined with two gentlemen from the Netherlands (in Costa Rica for the surfing!) and a couple from the Caribbean too.  A dog also joined us for dinner–I think he belonged to the front desk manager–and he patiently sat next to us (hoping for snacks I guess).

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Our friendly (and furry) dinner companion

After the meal, as we were walking back to our bungalow, we saw an armadillo!  It was hanging out near the bushes outside the bungalow, and ran away before we could snap a picture.  I’ve never seen an armadillo in real life–that sucker was big and fast!  Even with the excitement of running into an armadillo, we fell asleep quickly after our action-packed day.

Day 4:  Journey to La Fortuna!

Our time in Tortuguero drew to a close, so we packed our bags and began the next leg of our tour.  Next stop, La Fortuna!

Calls with Mommy #100HappyDays

Day 17: Phone calls with my mommy make me happy. I speak with my mom on the phone a couple of times a week–I literally just got off the phone with her–and every time I hear her voice, I smile. She is so smart and always has the best advice and I love her more than anything in the world! I wish I lived closer so that we could spend more time together face-to-face, but these phone calls keep me happy in between visits. 

Every Beat (for my mother, the badass)

Whenever I talk about my mom, I always tell people that she is a badass. You only have to meet her once to know its true. First, she is gorgeous–when I introduce her to people they ALWAYS think she’s my sister. She is the most outwardly and inwardly beautiful woman, charming and sweet. She’s super fit–runs marathons and works out like a champ–and she isn’t afraid of hard work in the least. Whether it’s her job or working on our house or taking care of our family, she gets it done (done right and the first time, too). She has an uncanny ability to read people and isn’t afraid to say exactly what she thinks. 

But most importantly, she’s tenacious. She hasn’t ever (and never will) give up. When all the cards were stacked against her, she not only survived but thrived. She’s faced so much heartache in this life but still managed to keep a smile on her face and her eyes and spirit lifted to God. She’s intelligent and honest and understanding and so very wise. She’s been mother and father, parent and friend to me. 

I know that the person I am and every single success I’ve EVER had in life is owed to her. Without her sacrifice and example, I would be nothing. So today–and every day–I honor you. I thank you for carrying me for nine months and though every single day I’ve spent on this Earth. I look to you as an example of true womanhood. I support you and encourage you as you’ve always done for me. I can only pray that I become half the woman you are, that you are half as proud to be my mother as I am to be your daughter. 
And most of all, I love you. My heart beats for you and because of you; you gave me this life and I can never repay you. With every single beat of my heart, I love you.

Happy Mother’s Day.